Talk of Super Rugby axe affecting Cheetahs

    2017-04-24 14:25

    Cape Town - Cheetahs coach Franco Smith feels uncertainty regarding their Super Rugby status is negatively impacting his players.

    It was recently announced the Super Rugby tournament will be reduced from 18 to 15 teams from next year, with South Africa losing two teams and Australia one.

    SA Rugby is yet to announce which South African teams would be axed from the tournament, but there have been several calls for the Cheetahs and Southern Kings to be the two teams to drop out.

    Following their 20-14 loss to the Bulls in Pretoria at the weekend, the Cheetahs boast only two wins from eight matches in 2017.

    Speaking after the loss at Loftus Versfeld, Smith said talks of the Cheetahs being axed from the tournament have made things tough.

    “It sounds like we’re putting an excuse out there, but anyone who knows the mental side of the game would know... it’s like having to stop at a traffic light. If it’s orange, you either go or you stop. There’s no right or wrong, you must just do one. And if you doubt it leads to accidents. That’s where we’re at, we’re doing the great things right and at the vital period of the game we start looking at the scoreboard...”

    Mentally, it’s been tough on the Cheetahs players, Smith stressed.

    “Unfortunately if you talk about it from Monday to Saturday, then subconsciously it starts to become a threat. And we are playing not to lose instead of continuing to win,” he said.

    “And unfortunately at this level it’s a tough thing to deal with, but the way we start every game, the way we play, the way we physically put ourselves out there means that there’s a lot of belief and a lot of good rugby players developing. And it is a process.

    “We are unfortunately now staring into the barrel. We had a three, four year plan... look where we’ve come from two years ago, with young players in Varsity Cup, then Currie Cup... all the right things are happening and now unfortunately the mental aspect is hindering us a little bit.

    “We’re trying to deal with it, we’ve done a lot of work with our mental coach and we try and really put that to one side, but unfortunately it’s big monkey sitting on the back."

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